The dusk slips away and the lighthouse keepers get about lighting the accumulated wood pile on top of the lighthouse. The flame spreads quickly over the wood, which has been bathed in oil, creating a rather remarkable sight. In moments the flame covers the pile, and the keepers move to the edge of the platform and the stairs there that take them down into the main structure.
Within minutes the crab appears on the far eastern dike. It is enormous ... but as yet 400 yards away, and its real dimensions are difficult to describe. However, it moves off the dike and begins to quickly move across the planted field towards the lighthouse. The party would estimate it is moving as fast as five or six feet per second, and quite nimbly, not tearing the wheat as it goes but setting each of the eight legs it uses for standing precisely, the tips sharp as the stab the ground. It is true, the crab's body is about eight feet in diameter. As it nears the lighthouse, still a goodly distance from the party, an estimate would make the whole crap a good fourteen or sixteen feet wide, the legs bent like a spider's.
At full speed it slams into the side of the lighthouse, claws in front of its mouth, and literally bounces off the stone. At the last moment the shadow of the platform makes it impossible to see. Perhaps imaginatively, the ground seems to shake. The crab staggers back into the light, then slams forward again. The crack is not so loud the second time.
Now it emerges from the light, moving slower, swinging to the left and right as it moves to the west across the fields. When it gets within sixty yards to the left of the barn, it stops. The body can be seen to 'float' three feet above the ground, just above the tops of the wheat stalks. Its standing legs are as thick as a man's thigh. The other two limbs, one perhaps ten percent larger than the other, are five foot long appendages ending in claws about the size of barrels.
It moves slowly forward for a dozen or so steps, then speeds directly towards the barn. If no one disturbs it, the crab will stop at the barn's open side, move half way in and begin gobbling the sugar beets and squashes it finds there, shoveling them into its mouth.
|The Crab's Path|